Here I will attempt to break down the prior Investigations into Child Sexual Abuse in North Wales, before continuing to examine the Children's institutions involved in the Child Sexual Abuse scandal that led to the Waterhouse Inquiry.
I do this in an attempt to make the original report more easily readable before the Hon. Mrs Justice Macur completes her Review of the evidence.
The independent investigation commissioned by Clwyd County Council: the Jillings Report
2.02 One of the matters that had given rise to particular disquiet was that the Social Services Committee of Clwyd County Council had, in January 1994, commissioned an investigation by an independent panel of three experts, presided over by John Jillings, a former Director of Social Services for Derbyshire and ex President of the Association of Directors of Social Services, but the Panel's report, ultimately presented in March 1996, had not been published. The Panel had carried out its investigation between March 1994 and December 1995, initially with draft terms of reference but, from December 1994, with the following terms of reference set out in a letter from the County Council dated 30 November 1994:
"The County Council has appointed John Jillings as Chairman of an independent panel to conduct an internal investigation for the County Council into the management of its Social Services Department from 1974 to date with particular reference to and emphasis upon what went wrong with child care in Clwyd in the light of a number of incidents and convictions culminating in the conviction of Stephen Norris in November 1993 of further offences committed against children in the care of the County Council."
The Panel were required to "inquire into, consider and report to the County Council upon (1) what went wrong and (2) why did this happen and how this position could have continued undetected for so long" and their attention was specifically directed to such matters as recruitment and selection of staff, management and training, suspension, complaints procedures etc.
The misfortune was that, in the view of leading lawyers who were instructed to advise Clwyd County Council, the report could not be published because to do so would expose the Council to actions for defamation in the absence of any relevant absolute or even qualified privilege and because publication would probably constitute a fundamental breach of the Council's contract of insurance, entitling the insurers to refuse to indemnify the Council in respect of outstanding and potential claims against the Council by children formerly in its care who alleged that they had been abused whilst in care. The Council's insurers had warned against publishing the report on the latter ground and leading members of the Council felt obliged to accept the County Solicitor's advice that they should not do so, having regard to Counsel's opinion. This part of the history is dealt with in more detail in Chapter 32 of this report: it is sufficient to say here that neither the Welsh Office nor the County Councils nor the successor authorities that took over administrative responsibility from the County Councils on 1 April 1996, only days after the presentation of the report, were willing to undertake its publication. Meanwhile, speculation in the press and other media about its contents fermented and a notice of motion signed by six Members of Parliament, tabled on 27 March 1996, deplored the actions of the insurance company in (allegedly) attempting to suppress the report.
The Report of the Examination Team on Child Care Procedures and Practice in North Wales
2.04 Another factor in the Government's decision to establish this Tribunal, and one that led to the inclusion of the administrative area of the former Gwynedd County Council within the scope of its inquiry, was that the Secretary of State for Wales had, in December 1995, accepted the recommendation of Nicola Davies QC that there should be a detailed examination of the child care procedures and practices of both Clwyd and Gwynedd County Councils since 1991. Adrianne Jones CBE, a former Director of Social Services for Birmingham City Council, was appointed under section 80 of the Children Act 1989 to carry out the examination: she was assisted by an independent team of three, and she presented her report to the Secretary of State in May 1996.
The report contained some 41 recommendations, aimed mainly at improving the planning, management and monitoring of children's services, and the Secretary of State told the House of Commons:
"Adrianne Jones' report will make a substantial contribution towards achieving my objective of securing the safety and well-being of children in care in North Wales, but it also reveals that, despite the Children Act, the Warner report and all the other actions that the Government have taken in recent years to protect children, serious shortcomings remained up until the abolition of the Clwyd and Gwynedd County Councils earlier this year. This is a disturbing conclusion, which has to be coupled with continuing public concern about the full extent of what happened and how it could apparently have continued undetected for so long.
The Government are determined that there should be no cover-up of events in the past, and that every possible step is taken to protect children in care in the future. In the light of these developments, we have decided that further initiatives need to be undertaken."
Whilst the account in the preceding paragraphs of this chapter (2) adequately indicates the most proximate reasons for the appointment of this Tribunal, a more extended outline of the chronology of events is necessary to explain the conflicts and mounting concern about the welfare of children in care in North Wales in the years preceding 1996.